CARACAS, Venezuela, Tuesday January 29, 2019 – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says he’s open to having talks with his opponents to resolve the political crisis in his country that has deepened since last week when Opposition Leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim leader.
In a speech to members of the Venezuelan diplomatic corps in Caracas yesterday, he said his administration was establishing contact with governments who offered to mediate, and he identified Trinidad and Tobago as one of the locations for talks.
His comments came after he had spoken with Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders and diplomats who met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres yesterday in New York to discuss the situation in Venezuela. During those talks, the UN boss offered to facilitate dialogue and negotiation between the parties.
I told them I am ready once again in Venezuela or in Trinidad and Tobago or wherever to to begin a round of conversations, dialogue, negotiations, with all of the Venezuelan opposition when and where they want them." @tv6tnt pic.twitter.com/P3KVGGVzkW
— Kejan Haynes (@KejanHaynes) January 29, 2019
Maduro told the Venezuelan diplomats—who were recalled from the United States which has recognized Guaido as president of the South American nation—that he had informed the Caribbean Prime Ministers he was willing to talk.
“I spoke with all of them at length during the afternoon. I spoke with Evo Morales [President of Bolivia]. We are also establishing contact with governments who offered to mediate dialogue and I told them I am ready once again in Venezuela or in Trinidad and Tobago or wherever to begin a round of conversations, dialogue, negotiations, with all of the Venezuelan opposition when and where they want them,” he said.
Maduro has so far been adamant that he is the democratically elected president of Venezuela and has remained firm in the face of international pressure to step aside and allow free and fair elections.
He was sworn into office earlier this month for a second consecutive term, following disputed elections last year.
The US has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm PDVSA. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the proceeds of the purchase of Venezuelan oil would now be withheld from Maduro’s government, but the company could avoid sanctions by recognizing Guaido as interim president.